Performance management can be fraught with concerns and pressure even when the situation is simple and clear cut.  Misconduct however, adds another element to the situation that can cause confusion to businesses. Handling misconduct in the business is critical to success, but it must be well considered and undertaken properly.  This week’s HR Highlight will explore managing misconduct.

Poor performance or misconduct?

ACAPMA’s Workplace Relations Professionals were recently contacted by a member who had just this question.  There is no simple answer however there are several things to consider. If the conduct:

• put staff at serious or ongoing risk of injury
• threatened the safety of staff;
• adversely affects the businesses reputation;
• contravened business critical policies;
• or demonstrated a complete disregard for the lawful instructions of the business in combination (multiple policy breaches);

then it is likely to be misconduct.

That’s inappropriate

Businesses who have clearly articulated misconduct policies are better situated to address and manage issues such as inappropriate behaviour in the workplace, misrepresentation, actions that bring the business into disrepute or any other behaviour that the business has determined to be unacceptable.

Managing or terminating staff on the basis of misconduct allows businesses to respond to these serious breaches of trust and behaviour in a work environment. In order to utilise this power businesses needs to have a clear misconduct policy that:
• is written to reflect the realities of the business;
• is communicated to all staff;
• outlines expected behaviour and repercussions for failure to demonstrate expected behaviour; and
• is enforced in a consistent and predictable fashion.

You’re out

When an employee engages in unconscionable conduct or demonstrates behaviour that is unacceptable to the business a strong, consistently enforced policy allows that employee to be stood down with or without pay (without pay should be reserved for serious situations – such as serious safety breaches) while the business investigates the breaches and a formal performance management meeting can be called with notice.

Consistency is key

It is important when designing and applying misconduct policies, indeed all policies, that they are consistent with other policies and that they are enforced consistently. This latter element is very important for terminations that are a result of misconduct. The business must consistently utilise the policy so if one employee displays the same misconduct they receive the same treatment as all others that have displayed that misconduct in the past.

Any deviation from previous treatment of misconduct within the business must be justified within the management team.

Here to help

Misconduct policies are part of the “must have” policies that every business should have, communicate to staff and enforce. ACAPMA members are reminded that ACAPMA Employment Department has a series of resources from Quick Reference Guides to template letters for misconduct and performance management that can assist with ensuring compliant and consistent responses in this area, and can contact on the advice and support of the ACAPMA Employment Professionals via

HR Highlights are things to consider, implement and watch out for in your business. They are provided as general advice and you should seek further advice on your situation by contacting the ACAPMA Employment Professionals its free for members.

ACAPMA membership is affordable at only $880 per year for a single site and valuable with sites gaining HR advice support and representation as well as a raft of other benefits and discounts.  Click HERE to learn more about ACAPMA membership.